Saturday, February 16, 2008

A school to inspire new idealism

As one travels around India, one is struck by two apparently contradictory facts:

1. The main developmental problem faced by India today is not the physical infrastructure, it is the mental and cultural infrastructure. The required new physical infrastructure has not been built (most of what we have is what the British left us 60 years ago). And such mental and cultural infrastructure as existed on the occasion of India's independence has become weathered, eroded and degenerate, so that we are not producing enough graduates to meet the demand with the result that salaries are exploding and Western companies (even Indian companies) are beginning to look at less developed countries to find people with the right qualities and trainin, at the right salary.,

2. The above is true inspite of a huge number of schools, tutorial institutions, colleges and universities that have come up in the last 60 years.

What explains this contradition? At least two factors: (a) most of the new institutions do not serve the lower levels of India's caste structure (specially in north India, where the bulk of our population is located), and (b) such institutions may graduate people with paper qualifications, but according to at least one study only 10% of these graduates are employable and, more important, the graduates that are being produced have no ideals beyond making money as quickly as possible for themselves (and the rest of the world can go hang). I am aware that, in order to make my point, I am exaggerating - but the exaggeration is not substantial.

How refreshing then to come across a recently-established school which intends to pursue the nurture of not just intellectual development but also moral development, and not primarily for the upper castes and classes, but specifically for the lower castes and classes:

I will watch its progress with interest: many schools were started with such idealism in the past (and indeed it could be argued that whatever secularism, pluralism and democracy we still have in India is a direct result of the contribution made by such schools), but most such schools shed their "naivety" and started adjusting to the "realities" of India some decades ago, and so have lost whatever inspirational power they once possessed.

Will Gyankur School not also inevitably follow in their "realist" train?

I will watch with bated breath to see whether and how the school keeps and feeds and grows its idealism, and whether and how the school resists the blandishments of so-called pragmatism and realism.

Gyanankur is of course not the only school of this sort.

I have earlier drawn attention to Satya Niketan School in Nagod, Madhya Pradesh, central India ( So far, Satya Niketan has survived - at huge personal cost to the founders, particularly in terms of health - but it has only just survived. The question for Satya Niketan is how the next generation can continue and grow the founders' vision. Sphere: Related Content

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Prabhu, i am one of the leaders of Gynankur and i must say we have a great board of people who have already been idealists for quite a few years...through other tough things...but i agree it is one of our challenges. Feel free to speak into our lives along the way as you follow our progress.